Months after launch, both the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X are still as soon as retailers announce they have stock. This shortage has led some UK lawmakers to call for the practice of scalping–where bots are used to purchase multiple units at once to later sell at a higher price–to be banned.
Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, the problem of scalping has been exacerbated with most retailers having to go fully online to sell their wares. This makes it that much easier for automated bots to run away with surplus units their owners can then sell at a premium. While some retailers have tried to put forth preventative measures like limiting one purchase per address, scalpers have been able to figure out ways around, and even methods of stopping it have become monetized.
To combat this, Scottish National Party MP Douglas Chapman and other members of parliament are now calling for scalping to be criminalized. Chapman described the practice to as “profiteering” and “a total scam.” To combat this, Chapman has brought a private members bill called the Gaming Hardware (Automated Purchase and Resale) Bill 2019-21 forward. If it passes, scalping would be banned similarly to how ticket reselling at higher prices was a few years ago. Chapman has acknowledged that the legislation is likely a long shot, but said it was one of the actions available to him in order to make the government “take responsibility” for the issue.